The History Behind Coach Handbags

Have you ever wondered about the companies behind designer handbags? Does it really matter if you know who makes those bags? Maybe I just have too much time on my hands. But I decided that I wanted to know something about some of the companies behind those high priced bags. Because Coach bags are so popular I decided to learn more about the Coach Company.

After some research on the internet, of course, I discovered that Coach was founded in 1941 and was and still is based out of New York City. American made handbags, awesome. I am still confused on Coach’s original name because in one search the company was called Manhattan Leather Bags and another search the company was called Gail Leather Products. However, all the stories agree that it began as a family-owned business, with six leather workers who hand-made leather wallets and billfolds.

In 1946, Miles Cahn and his wife Lillian joined the company. They were owners of a leather handbag manufacturing business and with their knowledge about leather works were a great fit. Within 4 short years, Cahn had all but taken over the business. Creative, curious, and one whose business was leather, he noticed the longer a baseball glove was used, the softer and more supple the leather became. In his attempt to duplicate the same process used for the baseball gloves, he created a way of processing the leather that made it stronger, softer, and more flexible. An added benefit of this process was that the leather absorbed the dye better resulting in a deeper and richer color.

In 1961, Miles and Lillian Cahn bought the company and Lillian suggested that the company start making women’s leather handbags. Miles was against the idea because there were a lot of handbag companies in New York and stores were buying knock-offs from Europe. However, Lillian prevailed and she designed the first Coach Bag. It was a tote modeled after a paper shopping bag she had used as a girl in Wilkes-Barre, PA. It became a classic. Miles went on to make a dozen other handbag designs that became the first generation of the Coach Line and Lillian became the spokesperson for the company. She established a strong rapport with fashion writers and editors and put Coach bags in the fashion circles.

Miles hired Bonnie Cashin, a sportswear pioneer, to design handbags for Coach and she revolutionized the product’s design. During that time, Cashin instituted the inclusion of side pockets, coin purses, and brighter colors (as opposed to the usual hues of browns and tans) onto the bags. She added hardware to her handbags, specifically the silver toggle that became the Coach hallmark. Cashin remained with the company until 1974. Around the mid-1970s, the company changed its name to Coach Products, Inc and in 1980, the company changed its name again to Coach Leatherware Company, Inc.

In 1979, Lewis Frankfort joined Coach as the Vice President of New Business Development. He spearheaded the development of Coach Stores and introduced Coach to the international markets. In 1985, Sara Lee Corporation bought Coach and Frankfort was appointed President of Coach. Ten years later, Frankfort was appointed Chairman and CEO of Coach and he branched out opening specialty stores and mail catalogs. Sales significantly increased and because the demand was greater than the supply, Coach had to restrict sales to hand-selected vendors.

Coach handbags are handcrafted from the finest American and European hides and textiles and continues to innovate each season, turning out new colors, styles and designs.

A good friend of mine told me that when her husband asks her what she wants for Christmas or her birthday, she asks for the latest Coach Handbag. Coach Handbags are not only beautiful but are so well made that they can last a lifetime, at least according to my good friend. Buy a Coach Handbag and let me know what you think. I believe you will be just as impressed as my friend.